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Overview

This section provides a summary of the top five skills which were highly prioritised across IRC Skills Forecasts, the factors and trends which affect the demand for these skills, and key initiatives underway which aim to address skills needs.

The top five skills, of eleven skill areas, were identified by Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) in their 2019 Skills Forecasts. The skills set out in the Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training report  have been used as a framework for organising these skill areas.

It is evident from the analysis that there is a huge industry demand for cross-sector skills such as adaptability, analytical, digital, and collaboration skills. 

Given the ever-evolving challenges that industry face due to factors such as structural change, economic cycles, changing markets, and emerging technology, these transferable cross-sector skills are critical for ensuring Australia's workforce can adapt to the ever-changing environment.  

In addition, industry and occupational-specific skills remain a priority for all industries, with many IRC Skills Forecasts identifying key technical skills in demand. Indeed, these specific skills for specific jobs remain an integral part of Australia's vocational education and training system.

For more detailed analysis on each of the eleven priority skill areas and industry demand please visit the Priority skills page. For more information on the factors driving demand for skills, please visit the Factors and trends page, and to find out about cross-sector projects and training package development work underway, please visit the Key initiatives page.

The top five high priority skills are summarised below:

Adaptability skills

 

As demand for skills constantly adapts to new technologies and job requirements, workers must enhance their ability to adapt to new situations and acquire new skills. As the world of work becomes more flexible, individuals are expected to take more responsibility for their own skills development.

Ranked first highest priority generic skill across all industries

Priority skills

Skills identified by IRCs

  • Adapt to changes
  • Changing skill needs arising from new
    technologies
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Self-management

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
  • Automation and robotics
  • Big data and data analytics
  • Demand for care-related services and products
  • Demographic changes
  • Digitisation and the ‘internet of things’
  • Emerging markets
  • Emerging technologies
  • Empowered customers, and changing work and career values
  • Globalisation and its impact on mobility, migration and international markets
  • High and complex regulatory environment
  • Increasing participation by equity groups
  • International and domestic sustainability action
  • Policy environment
  • Political appetite for reform
  • Skills mismatch, shortages or gaps
  • Technologically advanced materials and products.

Collaboration skills

 

Those able to collaborate and share information are best able to adapt to changing markets and technologies, interact in diverse workplaces, and effectively respond to customer needs. Skills that enhance collaboration include communication and teamwork skills, relationship management, and social and cultural awareness.

Ranked fourth highest priority generic skill across all industries

Priority skills

Skills identified by IRCs

  • Communication skills
  • Cultural and global awareness
  • Customer service
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Social perceptiveness and competence
  • Teamwork.

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Access to quality internet
  • Changing work and career values
  • Changing workplace dynamics
  • Demographic change
  • Emerging markets
  • Global mobility
  • Growing demand for care-related services and products
  • Increased participation by equity groups
  • Innovation ahead of regulation
  • Sustainability action, driving the demand for more sustainable products and services.

Analytical skills

 

Data is becoming increasingly available, with ‘big data’ derived from online activity, sensors, the ‘internet of things’, new analytical tools, and artificial intelligence. With this, comes an expectation that workers in almost all industries, and across most roles, will be able to use available data to derive value, and improve products and services.

This may require the ability to analyse and present raw data or to interpret data analysis and apply findings. It may perhaps also involve other skills, such as data management, information literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking and creative thinking.

    Ranked second highest priority generic skill across all industries

     

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Analytical thinking and innovation
    • Creativity, and creative problem solving
    • Critical thinking
    • Diagnosis, analysis and evaluation skills
    • General analytical skills
    • Identifying, locating, interpreting and
      evaluating information
    • Innovation
    • Problem solving.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • rtificial intelligence and machine learning
    • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
    • Big data and data analytics
    • Cross-disciplinary science
    • Digitisation and the ‘internet of things’
    • Emerging technologies
    • Start-up thinking.

    Digital skills

     

    In a world of rapid technological expansion affecting all industries, it is vital to have a workforce that’s agile, with the skills to drive and adapt to new technologies. Digital skills include coding and programming, development and use of robotic and automation technologies, leveraging ICT skills in business, and exploring the world of cloud computing and the 'internet of things'.

    Ranked third highest priority generic skill across all industries

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Automated design
    • Coding and programming
    • Cyber security skills
    • Digital literacy
    • Digital skills relating to industry specific
      software and technology
    • Information and communication technology skills
    • Understanding and working with automation

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Access to quality internet
    • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
    • Automation and robotics
    • Big data and data analytics
    • Changing workplace dynamics
    • Digitisation and ‘Internet of Things’
    • Emerging or changing markets
    • Emerging technology
    • Empowered customers
    • Globalisation and its impact on mobility, migration and international markets
    • More technologically advanced materials and products.

    Industry and occupation skills

     

    Industry and occupation skills refer to specific skills that various IRCs have identified as being a priority for their industry. These skills vary from industry to industry and they are unpacked further on the Priority skills page. 

    Industry and occupation-specific skills are important in most industries

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Cross-industry skills and trades
    • Industry or occupation-specific skills
    • Industry or occupation-specific knowledge, including technical, product and
      market-related knowledge
    • Understanding and use of equipment or technology.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Attracting and retaining a workforce
    • Automation and robotics
    • Big data and data analytics
    • Demographic changes, and their impact on workforce and markets (adaptability)
    • Digitisation and the Internet of Things
    • Emerging or changing markets
    • Emerging technologies
    • Policy environment
    • High and complex regulatory environment
    • Skills mismatch, shortages or gaps
    • Sustainability action, driving the demand for more sustainable products and services.

    Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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